Crédit Coopératif, one of France’s leading co-operative banks, was founded in 1893. It finds its origins in the Social Economy movement of the late 19th century that led to the creation of today’s large mutual banking groups, when the industrial revolution and early globalisation led populations to organise themselves into cooperatives. These values and this era build a bank which has at its core the cooperative philosophy of social responsibility.

Firstly, Crédit Coopératif offers a wide range of banking products and services, especially to businesses and organisations, in the different sectors of the Social economy and for individuals. It assists and works together with co-operatives, mutual organisations, small businesses, trade associations, work committees, in fact all the actors in a sustainable economy.

“The job of a co-operative bank is not only to move money around but also to put that money to good use, in a social sense. That is our vision at Crédit Coopératif,” said Jean-Louis Bancel, President of Crédit Coopératif. “We have been a pioneer with non-profit organizations, first in social finance… We are in the same logic with microfinance, which is essential to the world and requires reliable banking knowledge. A co-operative bank must ensure that it retains its co-operative identity, which in includes supporting actors in the social economy and acting out of solidarity, but also to support more broadly all those involved in the building of a more humane society.”

A little over a year ago Crédit Coopératif introduced a mechanism whereby it donates the value of 0.01 per cent of every interbank currency transaction it undertakes. The funds are donated at the conclusion of each year to a recognised NGO of its choice which works in international co-operation for development, thereby helping to fulfil the United Nations’ Millenium Goals.

“We are the first bank to voluntarily apply such a mechanism. This comes as an additional project amongst our bank’s various contributions, either through sponsorship, services provided to actors of solidarity, or through the commercial offers made for our clients and members which allocate part of the benefit toward civil society actors,” said Pierre Valentin, Crédit Coopératif Deputy CEO, at the time of its launch. “It is therefore a natural step for us. Given its size and its weight, it is the way for Crédit Coopératif to take part in the funding working towards the Millennium Goals in developing countries.”

In fact, Crédit Coopératif has taken a pioneering role in the French banking sector and offers the largest range of ethical and solidarity-based banking products and investments in France.

Using tools such as refinancing, lines of credit, guarantee schemes and financial engineering, it has given broad support to microfinance institutions.